NASA Scientists to Discuss Findings on Mars, Pluto at Houston-area Conference

March 13, 2017


Editor’s Note: While the information below is for working media only, there are links to the abstracts of all the papers to be presented during the 48th Lunar and Planetary Society Conference, which are available to the public. To access the paper’s abstracts, go to:

NASA scientists from across the agency will present their latest findings and perspectives on topics ranging from Mars and Pluto to the dwarf planet Ceres during the 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, March 20-24.

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has made a geologic traverse across Gale Crater and provided new data depicting trends in the planet’s mineralogy.

The 2015 exploration of Pluto by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has revealed a spectacular diversity of landscapes across the planet, ranging from ancient, heavily cratered terrains to youthful regions being rapidly resurfaced by sublimation, condensation, glaciation and convection.

NASA’s Dawn mission is providing data about the features, composition and evolution of the dwarf planet Ceres that contrasts with pre-mission predictions.

NASA will hold two briefings at the conference. A NASA Headquarters briefing will be held at 5:30 p.m. CDT on March 20, during which representatives from the Planetary Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate will update the community on the status of the division’s fleet of missions and programs. The director and Research and Analysis lead will provide an update on Planetary Science Division research opportunities at noon on March 22.

NASA also will hold a town hall meeting, from 12:30 to 6 p.m. on March 19, to discuss the Science Definition Team (SDT) report on the NASA pre-Phase A study of a Europa lander. Pre-Phase A refers to studies that are conducted of multiple potential mission concepts and potential science investigations prior to committing to a specific concept.

The town hall is intended to provide an extended opportunity to communicate the science content of the report to the scientific community and, equally importantly, to engage in constructive discussion with the scientific community. For more information on the town hall, please email Curt Niebur at:

The conference will take place at the Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center at 1601 Lake Robbins Drive in The Woodlands, Texas.

Media may register to attend. For more information, including links to the program, media advisories and contact information, visit:

The conference is presented by the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. LPI is managed by the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), a national, nonprofit consortium of 105 leading research universities chartered in 1969 by the National Academy of Sciences at the request of NASA. USRA operates programs and institutes focused on research and education in most of the disciplines engaged in space-related science and engineering.

More information about the agenda and other activities is available online at:

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit:


Press Contacts

Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726 / 202-358-1077 /

William Jeffs
Johnson Space Center, Houston

Julie Tygielski
Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston